In my last blog, I expressed my concern that the projected future dearth of doctors and nurses was going to both increase costs for health care, as well as make it a challenge for people to get medical treatment. Turns out my concerns may be misguided as I was limiting my vision to a linear world and we are now living in an exponential one – at least according to Peter Diamandis, co-author of the book Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think.
I recently heard Diamandis speak at a meeting of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) here in Dallas. Diamandis is an American engineer, physician and entrepreneur best known as the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation and the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University. I was so enamored with his presentation that I bought his book and it did not disappoint.
Diamandis is a super optimist who sees a much brighter future than the one we tend to hear
about in the news. One of his best quotes during his speech was “the media is a drug pusher and negative news is their drug.” Diamandis notes that humans are built to over-respond to negative influences. This programmed condition served us well when we were running from predators and trying to stay alive as a species thousands of years ago. But now this tendency is a detriment as we overreact to any bad news or predictions of future gloom and doom.
In the book, Diamandis explains how technology will be the major driver of future change. He notes that technologies in computing, energy, medicine and many other areas are improving at an exponential rate (by 2023, a $1,000 computer will be able to process as fast as a human brain) and will soon enable significant breakthroughs that now seem barely possible.
For instance, my concern about the future supply of medical professionals will be offset by the development of a technological device that will allow anyone to self diagnose their medical condition, and other technologies will provide for better and more efficient treatment. It’s sort of like the tricorder on the original Star Trek television show. Come to think of it, Bones appeared to be the only doctor on the Enterprise, so technology allowed him to serve an entire spaceship crew!
Diamandis further proposes that these advances in technologies will allow independent innovators
to achieve startling new discoveries and successes in many areas with little money or manpower. Future change will not necessarily be dependent on the government or big business.
Technology is also creating a new generation of "techno-philanthropists" (such as Bill Gates and others) who are using their fortunes to try to solve seemingly unsolvable problems such as hunger and disease. The lives of the world's poorest will improve substantially because of technology, and as the lives of the poorest are elevated, the entire world population will benefit. It’s an uplifting and
winning vision for the future and a refreshing alternative to what we normally hear.